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STUDY: NEW GENERATION ANTI-DEPRESSANTS HAVE LITTLE CLINICAL BENEFIT FOR MOST PATIENTS

BRITISH RESEARCH GROUP CONCLUDES THAT THE DRUGS ACTIVELY HELP ONLY A SMALL GROUP OF THE MOST SEVERELY DEPRESSED

2007-08-20-painpills1.jpgWhat if Tom Cruise and his Scientology friends are really right? What if anti-depressants are just another high priced way to separate a nation of depressed people from their money, and really have little if any clinical benefit? Scary thought, but perhaps not as far fetched as it sounds.

Dominating the news cycle today along with all of the squabbling between Clinton and Obama is the release of a new study by a group of British University researchers, which contends that those happy pills that far too many of us take really provide little if any benefit to all but the most severely depressed.

The study, by researchers from the University of Hull in Great Britain, reviewed published clinical trial data, and unpublished data, secured under Freedom of Information legislation, on 47 clinical trials before publishing their
findings in the journal PLoS Medicine.

The British team focused on drugs, which work by increasing levels of the mood controlling chemical serotonin in the brain. These included fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Seroxat), from the class known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), alongside another similar drug called venlafaxine (Efexor) – all commonly prescribed in here in the United States.

Per the BBC, The researchers found that the drugs did have a positive impact on people with mild depression – but the effect was no bigger than that achieved by giving patients a sugar-coated “dummy” pill.

“This means that depressed people can improve without chemical treatments,” according to lead researcher, Professor Irving Kirsch. “Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe anti-depressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed to provide a benefit.”

As might be expected, this news has triggered vocal responses from Big Pharma with the makers of Prozac and Seroxat, two of the commonest anti-depressants, the first to rush into print with their denials.

- LIB

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